Just this past Friday, all the Mount Hope students recited poetry they had been memorizing for a while now. The qualifiers were on Friday; the actual competition will be this coming Friday. It was delightful listening to children using the words crafted by some of the masters of the English language.
It’s quite important that our students not only learn great poetry, but also learn how to have great language in their own speaking and writing—not to mention learning Scripture, the Catechism, and hymns by heart. So much of what we teach at Mount Hope involves language, whether that be English or Latin, and the task of learning language is invaluable for our students (as well as for all of us) for several reasons.
First, learning language is important because God has created us as language beings. We live and thrive on it; we can’t even think without it (have you ever tried to have a coherent thought without using words?). Moreover, God created us—and the entire world—by speaking language. We are the creatures that were made in His image, and with that comes our unique ability to have language, too. And if being able to speak is a gift from God, it’s good and fitting to learn about it and become well-versed in speaking it. That alone is reason enough to learn language! But there’s more.
Second, on a practical note, language gives us a universally helpful way to serve our neighbor. Language is the atmosphere of our interaction with others, so being able to speak well is undoubtedly beneficial in our lives together as Christians, as well as our life in the world. Whether you’re having a robust theological conversation, consoling a fellow Christian, communicating with the cashier at the grocery store, solving a mathematical conundrum, explaining the Gospel to a friend, or enjoying the company of family around the dinner table, language is being spoken. The fact that it is so integral to our everyday life as Christians makes language an art worthy of practicing.
Third, and most important, language is how God continues to sustain us through the preaching of His Word and through His Sacraments. By far, the most important reason language should be taught is that Scripture itself was written and continues to be preached with it. The Christian wants to be able to read the Bible well, to understand the sermon on Sunday, and to pray. Language is an integral part of our life in Christ, specifically the language of God’s Word, and that’s why we learn it by heart, recite it, pray it, and sing it. It’s really a beautiful thing to see happen at our school, even though the simple act of speaking can seem so mundane. Who else besides the Christian can truthfully say he possesses the real, concrete words and promises his God speaks to him even today?